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AV Rant #582: Blessed Bend

March 16th, 2018 1 comment

Our Listeners of the Week are Shane and Mb (who might be Chris), along with our 54 Patreon Patrons, including Adriano M., and also Chris H. for telling Accessories4Less we recommended them, Boshko for letting APC and Sewell know he bought products from them because of us, and Dave B. and his brother, Don, who were inspired by us to start their own podcast. You can check out their movie reviews at Movie Chatter Podcast where they’ve posted some kind words and links back to AVRant and We Watch Movies.

In the news, via Chris S. and Justin B., RBH has released their 2nd Generation Impression Series speakers. Cabinet build quality and parts quality have gone up, but so have prices. And next month, Elite versions will be released, which basically replace the RBH MC Series.

0:13:54 Mark H. gets more advice on replacing the door that leads to his bedroom addition, and we discuss ventilation, as well.

0:23:02 Daniel W. wants a pair of bookshelf speakers that will be a noticeable difference from his KEF LS50, so we like his idea of trying Ascend Acoustics Sierra-2, and also suggest Revel Performa M126Be, Focal Aria 906, or GoldenEar Aon. We also fail to offer much help for finding a way to repair a pair of STAX electrostatic headphones, other than suggesting to contact STAX, or contact JansZen, the inventors of electrostatic speakers.

0:28:57 Alvin C. asks about Dialogue Normalization, listening modes, and whether Dolby Pro Logic IIz is considered a 5.1.2 configuration.

0:37:26 Michael L. gets our recommendations for a $1,200 5.1 system, including: Yamaha RX-V383 Receiver, SVS SB12-NSD or RSL Speedwoofer 10S subwoofer, and Focal Super Bird, Bird, and Little Bird; or, Aperion in-wall; or, NHT Super Series speakers.

0:44:07 Mike L. wants a subwoofer upgrade, but first he wants to know if he can just assume “bigger is better”, or if there’s a lot more to it than that.

0:51:43 Brandon N. bought and returned a Vizio P Series TV, so we dig into some of the finer points of setup and differences between LG OLEDs and Sony’s X930E.

1:03:09 “Packdevil” wants an affordable projector that can cope with ambient light, so we suggest either the Epson HC 3100 or Epson HC 3700.

1:06:23 Ted M. gets our truly final ideas on what he can try in order to improve the imaging of his on-wall speakers.

1:10:51 Marc asks what’s so special about corner bass traps.

1:14:08 Miles’ mother bought a Samsung 40″ MU6290, only to discover its optical audio output doesn’t always output sound. We go over some settings we believe might fix the problem.

1:19:46 Boshko asks about grounding terminals, plugging subwoofers into power conditioners, using a TV antenna as an FM radio antenna, running whole house audio from his Onkyo Receiver, which he could do via FlareConnect, DTS Play-Fi, or Chromecast Audio, and wall mounts for his Polk speakers, such as the Sewell Universal, or B-Tech Ultragrip.

1:30:37 PJ is considering a 50″ Vizio M Series TV, or an E or D Series so he can get a larger size. We recommend he get a TCL 55P605.

1:31:56 David F. is considering an Onkyo SBT-A500 Atmos SoundBar, but Rob would rather he get a less expensive Sony Atmos/DTS:X SoundBar, and Tom would rather he get a Yamaha Digital Sound Projector.

1:35:42 Jonathan F. agrees with the Sound Guys review of the Devialet Phantom wireless speaker, including that it costs too much. But he loves the high end sound, so we suggest KEF LS50W, or the SVS Prime Wireless speakers.

1:37:36 Chris M. moved his theater to a smaller room, so we advise speaker placement changes and going to 5.1.4 instead of 7.1.2.

1:42:41 Chris V. wants to know if Netflix’ list of devices that support Dolby Atmos is up to date.

1:44:24 Adriano M. wants multiple pairs of Bluetooth active noise cancelling headphones for his dentist office in Australia, and we think the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC fit the bill.

1:51:35 Carlton B. wants the sound of a $2,900 5.1 in-ceiling speaker setup for $500, so we like his idea of a Dayton SUB-1000L with either RBH A-600, Aperion Audio L6-IC, or OSD MK650 speakers, with a Dayton Audio Matrix 6-Zone amplifier.

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AV Rant #581: OVC H15 Active Noise Cancelling Headphone Review

March 9th, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are our 51 Patreon Patrons.

0:04:03 Tom reviews the OVC H15 Active Noise Cancelling Earphones.

In the news, ELAC introduced a new Debut 2.0 Series of affordable speakers designed by Andrew Jones.

Greg P. was inspired by Rob to buy a refurbished LG OLED TV, and now he wants a second one. And Jonathan F. reminds us to read the fine print, as he discovered the 10% off coupon sent to him by Best Buy excludes almost everything they sell.

0:18:22 Mike M. wants to retain 4K HDR and lossless audio from his MKV files, which the NVidia Shield can do, but it does not automatically switch back to SDR color, so he wonders if there’s a fix.

0:22:44 Jeremy K. gets our help planning his screen size, speaker configuration , and wiring for the bonus room above his garage.

0:33:31 Dan W. wants to upgrade something in his theater, so we discuss expanding to Atmos by adding Focal Little Bird speakers on his ceiling, planning for dual subwoofers, and adding acoustic treatment to his room.

0:43:15 Steve moved his upward-firing Dolby Atmos Modules so that they’re physically overhead, and he wants to be sure it’s ok to use Atmos Modules this way.

0:45:02 Christian S. started taking measurements, but discovered how tedious the process can be. We mention possibly using the Multi-Sub Optimizer software and talk about improving his mic stand. We also answer his other questions about broadcast quality cables like Blue Jeans Cable, and what to upgrade next in his theater.

0:55:15 Jack R. needs a drywall ceiling in his basement, so we suggest using Dynamat Dynabox backer boxes for his in-ceiling speakers, and super thin LED ceiling lighting so that he can avoid needing backer boxes for lights.

1:02:34 Bobby M. wants to make sure we still recommend Outdoor Speaker Depot in-ceiling speakers, even though he might only have one pair while all the rest of his speakers are Klipsch.

1:06:09 Wesley M. wants to upgrade his Polk speakers in a small room, so we suggest he audition SVS Prime, Aperion Audio Intimus, NHT SuperZero, Focal Bird, and HSU HB-1 speakers.

1:09:51 Earle B. wants a big subwoofer upgrade for his 4,000 cubic foot space, and we think dual SVS SB-4000 will be the perfect fit.

1:13:31 Karl R. gets our thoughts on the THX Spatial Audio Platform.

1:16:39 Shane lives in New Zealand, and he’s finding it difficult to buy DIY absorption panel supplies. He asks about Autex Quietspace panels, but we figure it must be possible to get rock wool insulation somewhere local.

1:20:44 Mark M. wants a small, inexpensive TV, and we think the TCL 32S305 remains a top value choice.

1:23:09 Infinite Gary gets our thoughts on a Stereophile video tour of the PS Audio factory, what’s best when it comes to ceiling height, Emotiva’s claimed launch date for their RMC-1 Processor as covered by AV Forums and Audioholics, and whether you need a laptop to use Dirac Live room correction.

1:31:43 Cory wants to add a second subwoofer to his DIY sub, and we think the Monoprice Monolith 12″ strikes the perfect match for size, price, and output.

1:36:09 Ed wants a less expensive subwoofer to pair with his SVS PC-2000, so we first say to talk to SVS, and also mention the HSU VTF-2 Mk.5 as a candidate. Then we talk a bit about speaker sensitivity, how much we tinker with our home theaters, and whether we’d like a dedicated 2-channel setup with vintage gear.

1:44:33 Lance K. has a finished room with seating and electronics, but he needs speakers, a screen, and a projector. We recommend: adding KEF Q Series, and NHT C Series to his audition list, GiK Acoustics free standing panels for his floor to ceiling windows, a 142″ 2.35:1 Silver Ticket screen, and a JVC DLA-X590R projector.

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AV Rant #580: That Escalated Quickly

March 2nd, 2018 No comments

Our Listeners of the Week are Miguel, Jason, Alex, and Robert for their donations, our 53 Patreon Patrons, as well as Randy E. for letting Accessories4Less know his Denon HEOS speaker purchase was thanks to us, Jack R. for encouraging everyone to update their forum post signatures to include a link to AVRant like he did, and Neil F. for letting SVS know we’re the reason he bought an SB12-NSD subwoofer. Thanks once again to Lee Overstreet for being our guest co-host last week. And huge thanks once again to everyone who subscribed to our AV Rant Podcast YouTube channel and allowing us to remain in the YouTube Partnership Program by getting us to over 1,000 subscribers!

In the news, Samsung is rumored to be working on QD-OLED TVs that would use an all-blue OLED panel with red and green quantum dots to create a fully self-emissive display. And Samsung has said they will start selling “The Wall” – their 146-inch, modular, micro-LED display – in August, while LG is now rumored to have a micro-LED display of their own that they’ll announce in September.

Jeb B. installed a bunch of our recommended products, and now he only gets mad when he goes out, and the movie theater’s sound isn’t nearly as good as his home system. And Jim B. found help in an AVS Forum FAQ when his Denon AVR-X3300W stopped outputting video via HDMI.

0:20:23 Mark H. rearranged his theater to give him space for Surround Back speakers, which he’s enjoying. He asks, if he upgrades to an Atmos/DTS:X Receiver, but does not install any overhead speakers, will immersive audio soundtracks sound any different from the 7.1-channel versions, and will the immersive upmixers sound any different than Dolby Pro Logic IIx? Also, Mark’s theater is in an addition that seems to have been constructed on the cheap. We discuss what he can do to improve his soundproofing, and his door in particular, without resorting to major renovation.

0:33:40 Chris H. gets confirmation that the Monoprice 9723 subwoofer plays much lower than the 50Hz listed on its spec sheet, and we explain why we think he should spend a little bit extra to get either a Yamaha RX-V383 or a Denon AVR-S720W as an entry-level Receiver.

0:38:59 Tyson W. is very happy with the HSU speakers and subwoofer we recommended for his living room, so he wants to use HSU speakers in his dedicated theater behind an acoustically transparent screen. We discuss his speaker options, and go over placement and spacing for ported speakers behind a false wall.

0:46:13 Randy E. wants new subwoofers for his 3,500 cubic foot room, so we recommend SVS PC-2000 cylinders, Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12, or Power Sound Audio 15V to give him options for either a small footprint, or something he could use as end tables on either side of his couch.

0:51:46 Neil F. replaced his compact speaker package subwoofer with an SVS SB12-NSD. He only cares about one seat, and the compact sub only plays down to 37Hz, so he asks if he should try to pair them up as duals, or stick to using only the SB12-NSD.

0:54:20 Jay W. found an SVS SB13-Ultra subwoofer on clearance. He wants to know if the newer SB-4000 is worth $500 more, and whether he should still audition the HSU ULS-15 Mk.2 we originally recommended to him.

0:58:07 Jason H. wants to expand to Atmos, but he isn’t sure if he should install Front and Rear Height, or Top Front and Top Rear speakers, so we go over the elevation angles and explain the max and min recommended distances from his seat.

1:02:06 Jay C. is moving his theater setup to a smaller space, and he wants compact, on-wall speakers. We like the KEF T-Series. Focal Little Birds, or NHT SuperZeros for this application, and we also want him to spend a bit extra to get an RSL Speedwoofer 10S subwoofer. We discuss crossover settings for small speakers. And we recommend a Denon AVR-X1400H, AVR-X3300W, or AVR-X4300H Receiver depending on how much he’s willing to spend.

1:13:25 Jake M. got his first taste of high quality audio, and now he wants to convert his garage into a dedicated theater. He’s excited about all the equipment he’d like to buy, but we attempt to slow his roll and get him to focus his present time (and money) on the construction of the room itself. With HVAC, insulation, thermal breaks, soundproofing, the garage door, and other construction factors being big concerns, we keep an eye on his eventual theater configuration, but we want the room to be the priority.

1:33:52 Karl R. wants to put a 24-inch HDR TV in a camper trailer, so we recommend a Dell S2419HM computer monitor, or keeping an eye on the growing list of DisplayHDR certified products.

1:37:32 Infinite Gary has seen some audio amplifiers whose spec sheets claim an exact doubling of Wattage into 4 Ohms vs. 8 Ohms, while most show less than an exact doubling, so he wants to know why.

1:40:13 Dave was impressed by Yamaha Active Servo subwoofers, so he wants our thoughts on them.

1:43:38 Nathan D. has spotted “Dolby Atmos 7.1.4” listed on the backs of some Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray packages, and he wants to know if the soundtracks are limited to 7.1.4-only, or if a larger speaker configuration, all the way up to 24.1.10, can still make use of all the extra speakers.

1:46:26 Nick B. wants a very large field of view, a motorized, acoustically transparent screen, and a full 30 Foot-lamberts from his projector at a fairly close seating distance, so we recommend the EluneVision Reference Studio Audioweave 4K Tab-Tensioned screen, as well as double checking his math for light output, screen size, and screen gain.

1:50:37 Marc N. has heard us using the initials “DSP” and “DAC”, and he’d like to know more than his own searches have turned up, so we offer our explanations, and recommend the book Understanding Digital Signal Processing, and the intro to digital audio videos from Xiph.org.

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AV Rant #579: EP is for Elbow Pain

February 23rd, 2018 No comments

Special Thank You: We did it! Our AV Rant Podcast YouTube channel has more than 1,000 subscribers, and it’s all thanks to you! It is humbling and heartwarming to have received so much support, and we are so grateful. THANK YOU!


Our Listeners of the Week are our 53 Patreon Patrons, as well as Alex P. for mentioning us to Accessories4Less, SVS, Silver Ticket, and Acoustimac when he went on his recent shopping spree.

Tom is away this week, so Lee Overstreet makes his first appearance in 2018 as guest co-host. We chat a bit about his project to capture and archive his videotape collection using a Matrox MX02 Mini desktop capture device, and we share a laugh at the hilarious Techmoan review of the RokBlok record player.

In the news, Marc let us know about the Poptheatr, a black bag with a bluetooth speaker and an elastic band to hold your phone over your face for what we’re sure would be the ultimate cinematic experience. We can’t believe it didn’t reach its Kickstarter funding goal.

David F. discovered a software glitch when using PowerDVD to play 3D Blu-ray discs on a Windows 10 PC. The audio defaults to stereo, but he found a way to get it to send full, lossless bitstreams the way it ought to. Michael M. shared a very detailed video by Grobi TV about the Denon AVR-X8500H and 13.1-channel Auro-3D that includes news about future updates and upgrades. Jack R. found out that Sony’s demo TVs at Best Buy revert back to “torch mode” automatically within seconds of adjusting any settings. Rich W. recommends the second episode of the TV show “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” as a subwoofer demo. And Roger J. says there’s more to the ELAC Adante “interport-coupled cavity” design than we first described. Differences in air pressure between the two different cavity sizes might give it some similarity to the H-PAS port design.

0:30:08 Roy B. bought the Sony UBP-X800 Ultra HD Blu-ray player we recommended, but he wants to know if lip sync might be an issue when using both of its HDMI outputs.

0:33:13 Jack R. gets our thoughts on how effective different ceiling construction options will be for his basement.

0:40:20 John wants to know what we think about Wharfedale speakers.

0:42:47 Alex P. (DUDE) bought a whole bunch of stuff, but needs some finishing touches. We recommend buying a single KEF Q100 as his Center speaker, suggest skimping a bit on his overhead speakers unless he wants to splurge on KEF E301s, and use the viewing distance calculator to adjust his seating position.

0:55:12 Kenny J. wants a portable display for his SNES Classic, so we recommend the Axess TVD-1801since it has an HDMI input.

0:59:20 Karl R. shares an opinion with Scott Wilkinson and Roger J. that the 4K HDR coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics looks spectacular, so we discuss the 24 hour broadcast delay for 4K, and speculate about the 2020 Summer Olympics coverage.

1:03:51 Alvin C. wants to know if having two identical subwoofers will be a significant upgrade or provide a better timbre match than two merely similar subwoofers.

1:07:13 Jason S. already has a nice theater, but he’s itching to upgrade something. We discuss his projector, suggest upgrading his Pre-Pro to a Denon AVR-X4400H Receiver, endorse his idea of upgrading his Front speakers to Ascend Acoustics Sierra Horizon RAAL while repurposing his current speakers, and highly recommend buying a calibrated measurement microphone from Cross-Spectrum Labs to help him determine if he could benefit from any further changes.

1:20:24 Infinite Gary asks some questions about DTS-ES 6.1, gets our lists of products announced for 2018 that excite or intrigue us, and shares his listening experience with a concert DVD while asking if we’ve heard similar differences between various audio tracks on the same disc.

1:30:05 Josh S. wants to clear up some confusion about HEOS, including whether any other Receivers can use HEOS speakers as wireless Surrounds like the HEOS AVR can. And he also gets our thoughts on eARC and whether TVs will replace AV Receivers as the “hub” of our home theater systems because of it.

1:38:52 Boshko asks a whole bunch of questions. We delve into what “balanced” connections and cables actually mean and what benefits they provide; tackle a general description of the differences between analogue and digital; get more specific about how the analogue inputs on his Onkyo Receiver might differ from an “analogue-only” Receiver; explain why we’d likely recommend a B-stock Denon AVR-X4300H for $900 CAN over pretty much any other Receiver; talk a bit about the Monoprice 25 Watt Hybrid Tube Amp with Bluetooth; discuss which audio and video formats can be stored and played back from a USB hard drive; and, explain the differences between the SVS PB12-NSD and the PB-2000.

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AV Rant #578: Occam’s Couch

February 16th, 2018 No comments

Special Request: We need 1,000 subscribers to our AV Rant Podccast YouTube channel in order to remain in the YouTube Partnership Program under their new rules that take effect Feb. 20, and we’re so close! Please consider helping us get over that threshold. Subscribing is completely free, so we’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you!


Our Listeners of the Week are Karl and James for their donations, and our 53 Patreon Patrons, as well as Anthony R. for letting Accessories4Less know he heard about them from us when he bought his Denon AVR-X3300W, Chris H. for telling SVS he bought an SB12-NSD because of our recommendation, Karl for letting Charlie Jones from SurgeX know he bought an SX-1115 power conditioner after enjoying our interview, and Bruno for helping us keep our We Watch Movies Podcast intros going. Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has subscribed to our AV Rant Podcast YouTube channel recently!

In the news, Sony unveiled pricing for their A8F OLED and X900F LCD TVs, and we’re disappointed. However, Sony also announced new HT-Z9F and HT-X9000F SoundBars that decode Atmos and DTS:X at lower price points than other Atmos SoundBars. And if you want to make your own movie server, check the Make MKV Forums Ultra HD section as there have been lots of developments.

Justin B. recommends the RBH HP-1B Bluetooth Headphones for AptX and good sound quality at an affordable price. Nathan W. corrected us about how the beta Oppo firmware handles HDR to SDR conversion, pointing out that you can retain Deep Color while having more tone mapping options than before. And Chris A. and Brandon both informed us that Yamaha and Denon/Marantz offer AV Receivers that can switch HDMI inputs without powering on while using the HDMI standby pass-through feature.

0:30:58 Jeb B. gets our list of AV Receivers under $1,000 that can power a 5.1.4 setup, as well as confirmation that he’ll need a separate amp for Zone 2.

0:36:54 Justin B. gets our speculation on why his Harmony Keyboard and Harmony Smart Control Remote are acting up.

0:42:28 Ted M. tried all of our suggestions for improving the imaging of his on-wall speakers at his primary seat, so we give our absolute last ditch ideas, but mostly try to persuade him to go with what he already knows gives him the results he’s looking for.

0:50:08 Charleston L. asks about his Denon AVR-X4300H always automatically applying upmixing, so we go over his options for manually setting his desired listening modes.

0:54:43 Infinite Gary is curious about the Revel Performa Beryllium M126 Be Concept speakers, and the new Elac Adante AS-61 speakers with their “interport-coupled cavity” passive radiator system, and he wants to know which ones we’d choose and why.

1:03:12 Cesar R. gets our thoughts on where he should position his seating, what speaker configuration he should use, what screen size he should get and how far away to mount it, as well as our recommendations for 12 or 14 gauge in-wall speaker wire from Monoprice, Parts-Express or Amazon.

1:11:26 Luke K. wants to know which older Receiver models supported Front Wide speakers and are still available for under $1,000.

1:15:52 Mike F. is using a Vizio SoundBar in his bedroom, and he’d like dynamic range compression, but he’s tried all the available settings, so we discuss ideas for other products he might use.

1:22:37 Josh L. has an 85-inch TV he can mount above his fireplace, but he wants to be able to occasionally move the TV farther away from the heat.

1:28:17 Brandon N. wants more Atmos content, but that probably means 4K. So he also wants a new TV and a projection setup. We discuss his flat panel options, his projection screen options, including Elite Screen Spectrum AcousticPro UHD and Saker Tension AcousticPro UHD, and which we think he should buy first.

1:43:48 Nick B. gets our thoughts on Brent Butterworth’s Monoprice 9723 budget subwoofer pick for The Wirecutter along with some other thoughts about dual subs, more expensive subs, and what we think might surprise us in a blind listening test.

1:53:37 Chris H. wants a new, $200, compact sub for his bedroom that can still play fairly low, and we think the BIC F12 would be a good choice.

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